Boaters and swimmers urged to avoid waterways as Hurricane Irene approaches

7th Coast Guard District News JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With Hurricane Irene approaching, the Coast Guard is urging boaters and swimmers to stay off and stay out of the water along central and northeast Florida waterways until the storm has passed and sea states return to normal.

Hurricane Irene is expected to bring gale force winds, and inland waterways are expected to be choppy. Boaters should take necessary precautions to ensure their personal safety due to strong gusty winds associated with the outer weather bands of Hurricane Irene.  Heavy seas, significant rain and damaging winds may accompany Hurricane Irene and present serious dangers to boaters. Hurricanes and tropical storms diminish the Coast Guard’s ability to conduct rescues  at the height of a storm. Be prepared, stay informed and heed storm warnings.

“Of great concern to the members of Coast Guard Station Port Canaveral is the safety of the boating community, recreational swimmers and in particular the surfers,” said Chief Petty Officer Durwood Marshburn, executive petty officer, Coast Guard Station Port Canaveral. “Large surf conditions generated as a result of Hurricane Irene are extremely dangerous. We strongly advise all beachgoers to stay off and out of the water as we quickly approach the operational limitations of our response resources.”

In addition, area beaches may see an increase in rip currents as a result of Hurricane Irene. Rip currents are strong narrow currents moving away from shore. The strongest rip currents can attain speeds reaching 8 feet per second. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, 80 percent of surf beach rescues are attributed to rip currents, and more than 100 people die annually from drowning in rip currents. Click here to view footage of rip currents and view additional safety precautions.


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